Internet pioneer, songwriter John Perry Barlow dies at 70

Associated Press

Wyoming native John Perry Barlow, an internet activist and lyricist for the Grateful Dead, has died.

The digital-rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation said Barlow died early Wednesday in his sleep at home in San Francisco. He was 70.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Barlow had been battling a variety of debilitating illnesses since 2015, according to supporters who organized a benefit concert for him in October 2016.

Barlow co-founded the EFF in 1990 to champion free expression and privacy online. In a 1996 manifesto, the "Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace," he argued that the U.S. and other governments shouldn't impose their sovereignty on the "global social space we are building."

"He's one of the very first people who recognized the internet was going to be important because it would help people connect in a way they couldn't in the physical world," said Cindy Cohn, the EFF's executive director.

Some of his policy views evolved over time, but he remained optimistic about the power of the internet to strengthen human connections as long as people weren't silenced by meddling governments or monopolistic businesses.

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